Mozilla downloads are spiking since, among other people, US-CERT issued what amounted to a plea for people to use some browser, any browser, other than Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Several well-known computer columnists have been trumpeting Mozilla for months now. At least one has stated repeatedly and publicly that he’s staying with IE. So what should you do?Interestingly, IE only has about 50% of my readership. That doesn’t surprise me; I’ve long been an IE critic, and blogs tend to attract readers who agree with them. So I don’t pretend that my readership is representative of anything.

As far as alternatives to IE, I’ve been running some flavor or another of Mozilla as my workaday browser since about version 0.7, using IE just for running Windows Update and not much else. Why? Well, while IE usually loads faster than Mozilla, once it’s up and running, I think Mozilla is the faster browser. I love tabbed browsing, and I love how you can search web pages by hitting the ‘/’ key and then typing the phrase you’re looking for. To me, those reasons alone are reasons to switch; it just lets me work so much faster.

But I’ve overlooked possibly the best reason to switch, because it’s been so long since I’ve noticed the problem. Are you tired of popup and popunder ads? Mozilla browsers block them. No extra software needed. This weekend, when I used a computer that only had IE on it, I got so sick of popups I was about ready to download and install Firefox to get some relief. Microsoft’s been promising this functionality for months, maybe even a year, and still hasn’t delivered. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if it’s ever delivered as anything other than part of the next version of Windows.

But besides that, it’s a matter of security. So this most recent security hole has been patched. It’s been known for weeks and they’ve just now gotten around to patching it? What about next month’s exploit? I’m confident there’ll be another, and soon, just because IE has nearly as many security patches as Windows itself.

Besides keeping out hackers, it’s been known for some time that people who run something other than Internet Explorer have fewer problems with spyware.

So what about sites that require Internet Explorer? Actually not a whole lot of them do, these days. Most remaining compatibility issues with Mozilla are resolved as soon as you install Sun’s J2SE Java library.

And if you want some more tips on living with Mozilla Firefox, you’ve come to the right place.

I switched to IE at version 5.01 for a simple reason. At that point, IE was the better browser. Mozilla caught up again sometime around version 0.7. That was when I switched back. And it’s done nothing but get better since.